Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spends some time imagining Johnny Damon in a Braves uniform, observing that Atlanta could afford to sign him if they could do a one- or
two-year below $10 million. And he thinks that Damon would consider it because (a) he hasn’t received better offers; and (b) he’s told some
people he’d like to play for the Braves, who train near his Orlando
My take: at this point there should be several teams calling Scott Boras with an Adrian Beltre-type offer: one year at around $9 million with an option for year two. That may actually be high for Damon given his inferior defense and the relative lack of interest in him compared to Beltre, but in light of what happened with Beltre and Boston, Damon is suddenly in the realm of the doable for a lot of teams who might not have otherwise looked at him before.
O’Brien wonders whether if, at those prices, the Yankees might come back into the Damon raffle (“sweepstakes” is too grand a word for him). It’s possible, especially in light of Boston signing Beltre — never underestimate the power of an arms race — but Brian Cashman’s “stand pat” talk seems a bit more convincing this year than it has in years past.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.